This was Jeanne’s first visit to Jamaica for over 20 years although she had wanted to revisit or quite some time. Here is how she got on:
We flew with BA to Kingston on an extremely full flight in all cabins – next time I would probably look to try Virgin Atlantic directly to Montego Bay.
First stop was the absolutely delightful Jamaica Inn in Ochos Rios (about two hours by road from Kingston Airport or 1 hour 35 minutes from Kingston). An elegant, tasteful iconic property that has been operating for over 65 years – set in over 8 acres of private beach and lovely gardens. Their 55 suites, cottages and beach bungalows all overlook the beach and the Caribbean Sea and all feature a large open air terrace/verandah complete with sofas, dining table and chairs, fridge etc. An absolutely perfect way to start the day is with breakfast on your verandah – expertly and elegantly delivered by the impeccable staff.
If not taken on your verandah, breakfast can be taken in the Sea Shanty restaurant again over looking the beach and sea. Lunch was at Teddy’s Beach grill – a perfect ‘feet in the sand’ laid back restaurant set right on the beach under a beautiful Almond Tree with, in my opinion, perfect lunch choices mainly from the wood grill barbecue. On four nights of the week you can choose to dine again at Teddy’s but the main event of the evening takes place at the Terrace Restaurant where a six course gourmet dinner is served nightly along with evening entertainment. Afternoon tea/canapés/drinks can be enjoyed on the cocktail terrace. The head chef is passionate about his food and combines international cuisine with traditional Jamaican influences.
A sense of calm and timelessness reigns over Jamaica Inn which makes relaxing particularly easy even for the very stressed. Complimentary non-motorised water sports are available from the beautiful beach and there is also a beautiful spa which unfortunately we did not have time to try this time.
All in all an elegant, charming and romantic property which is perfect for couples looking to relax and have some great food. Children under 10 are not allowed.
We then travelled across to Montego Bay to Half Moon located only 10 minutes from Montego Bay Airport. At no point during our stay however was there any airport noise!
Although much larger that Jamaica Inn, the resort still feels personal; there are 210 luxuriously large and contemporary rooms (with fabulous bathrooms) set along two miles of beachfront.
Bikes can be found at the many bike stations along the manicured paths so you can make your own way to the exceptional facilities. These include include several swimming pools, 11 floodlit tennis courts, two pickle ball courts, an 18 hole Robert Trent Jones Sr. championship golf course, an eighteen hole putting green, squash courts, – even an equestrian centre. There is a children’s village for 3 to 12 year olds, a games room for teenagers and a luxury spa with nine treatment suites.
Half Moon has a great choice of restaurants from a beach front Italian restaurant to the gorgeous and characterful Sugar Mill restaurant set in a 200 year old sugar plantation. There are also 5 bars where at least one will be hosting evening entertainment at any point during the evening. A really great property for active families but as equally suited to members of the family who don’t want to be too active!
It was the surprise hotel of the trip for me – I did not expect it to be quite so fabulous! Exceptional staff who were always happy to pop you into a buggy if you didn’t fancy a bike ride. A wide choice of meal plans from room only to all inclusive so very flexible and essentially something to suite most people here.
Finally – for our last property – we travelled to the iconic GoldenEye. Hidden away in 52 acres of beautiful tropical grounds, GoldenEye’s exclusive private estate incorporates a lovely stretch of coast with both beaches and the calm waters of a natural lagoon. James Bond author, Ian Fleming, built a very simple home here in the 1950’s however but today, GoldenEye is a characterful and luxurious hotel with quite a bit of bohemian flair.
There are 48 beautiful cottages and villas are set either on the beach or at the edge of the lagoon. Quite a few different room types but all immensely characterful, romantic and unique.
The two main restaurants serve fabulous Jamaican and international cuisine. The informal Bizot Bar is located just steps from the beach and offers breakfast, lunch, snacks, inventive cocktails and a weekly BBQ. Built in an open-air tree house-style, The Gazebo is an upscale restaurant for dinner only, overlooking Low Cay Beach and the lagoon. Alternatively over by the Beach Huts, you can relax at the rustic Bamboo Bar and Grill, serving delicious Jamaican Jerk BBQ along with grilled fish straight from the sea. Or head to the super-relaxed Shabeen by the pool for cocktails and drinks again, overlooking the sea.
There are two secluded beaches, three swimming pools (one salt water) and a wide range of activities on offer. These include tennis, fishing, birdwatching, glass-bottom boat excursions, yoga and fitness classes. Complimentary watersports include kayaking, paddleboarding and snorkelling. For something less energetic an extensive range of relaxing beauty and body therapies using locally-grown herbs and flowers is available at the delightful lagoon-side FieldSpa.
We only had one night here but a great property for couples looking for something slightly more bohemian and cool than a traditional Caribbean hotel.
To chat about any of these hotels or the island of Jamaica, do get in touch.